Over the past five years, Instagram has emerged as one of the key social media channels for brand promotion, with more and more people now turning to the app for inspiration, discovery, and increasingly, direct purchase options.
That means that, for many brands, Instagram is now a key consideration – but maximizing your Instagram presence can be challenging, with the rising battle for attention in the app making it more difficult to stand out, attract new followers, and boost your messaging.
So what are the best ways to approach Instagram marketing in 2021, and how can you improve your posting strategy and presence?
To glean more insight on this, we recently spoke to Emily Reid, the Product Marketing Lead for Small Businesses at Instagram, to get her tips on some of the key elements of Instagram posting and promotion.
Q. What ad/promotional elements are seeing best response on Instagram right now?
ER: Each surface on Instagram can help you do something different, and when put together, we see businesses building communities of loyal customers.
One of the benefits of using Instagram is the various surfaces, through which you can reach your fans, community and customers in different ways. You can use Reels to create short, entertaining videos, and increase the chance of your brand being discovered by people that don’t follow you. You can use Stories to connect with your audience in different ways, from showcasing behind the scene clips to polling your followers, and interacting with them to get a better understanding of what they’d like to see.
We recommend experimenting as much as possible to find that sweet spot. Things that end up becoming hits are often the result of businesses and creators riffing and trying out new things.
Q: What’s the key to an effective Instagram marketing strategy?
ER: Today, over 90% of people follow a business on Instagram. People come to Instagram to be inspired and discover things that they care about, which includes content from brands – so businesses should use this to their advantage.
Our biggest tip is to experiment! Try using the different surfaces and free tools on Instagram to connect with and build an audience, whether that’s using stories to show behind the scenes, Instagram Live to have a conversation or tools like Shopping tags to drive direct sales.
With the shifting trend towards eCommerce, we recently added a new Shop tab in the main navigation bar, so in one tap, people can shop the latest trends from creators and brands on Instagram Shop. We also introduced shopping on Reels and IGTV to give people the ability to shop at the moment of inspiration. Businesses should use these tools to drive product sales directly.
Q: What are some good examples of brands that are achieving strong results with Instagram marketing?
ER: @halfdays – A small DTC brand started by an Olympic skier who had a hard time finding proper fitting ski apparel designed and made for women, by women.
As founder Kiley McKinnon explains, “A lot of skiwear brands use the ‘shrink it and pink it’ method – take men’s gear, make it smaller and add something like a floral pattern.” Rather than shrinking and pinking, the team looks to their own closets for inspiration, with the result being minimalist pieces in neutral shades and inclusive sizes.
@HillHouse – A woman-owned small business behind the Nap Dress that was everywhere on Instagram this last year.
@ultraviolet.nyc – A small, black woman-owned shop specializing in handmade jewelry. Instagram has helped her build awareness and reach customers that love her work who otherwise may not have found her.
Q: What would be your top tip for someone starting out with Instagram ads?
ER: We’ve made it simple for small businesses to advertise on Instagram directly within the app using our Promote feature. We know that small businesses are often short on time and resources. Our ad options are designed to help them easily reach an audience that we think may be interested in their products or services.
We encourage businesses to try to think like a creator when producing ads – be scrappy, experimental and take inspiration from trending content and effects on the platform.
Twitter Adds New Spaces Recording and Management Tools as it Continues to Focus on Audio Options
I remain unconvinced that Twitter Spaces will ever become a thing, but Twitter itself seems certain that there’s major growth potential there, as evidenced by its continued push to add more elements to its Spaces offering, in order to lure more listeners across to its Spaces tab, and maximize listenership within its audio broadcasts.
This week, Twitter has rolled out another set of Spaces updates, including permanent recordings (as opposed to them deleting after 30 days), the capacity to save recordings after broadcast, and new details within the Spaces bar at the top of the app.
First off, on permanent recordings – after initially launching its Spaces recording feature to all users back in January, Twitter is now extending the life of those recordings beyond the initial 30 day period.
now your Spaces recordings will live as long as you want them to! starting today, hosts on Android are able to host a Space that lasts indefinitely
iOS is coming up next!
— Spaces (@TwitterSpaces) June 30, 2022
That’ll provide more capacity to attract listeners over the longer term, and keep your conversations alive in the app.
In addition to this, Twitter’s also adding a new listing of your recorded Spaces within your app settings menu, where you’ll be able to play each session back, delete those that you don’t want to keep, or share a recording direct from the list.
That’ll enhance the functional value of Spaces chats, making them more podcast-like, and more of a vehicle for ongoing promotion and audience building – though it does seem to also maybe go against what made audio platforms like Clubhouse so attractive to begin with, in that they were live, in-the-moment chats that you had to be there to catch.
But podcasts is clearly more of the angle that Twitter’s now going for, based on these example screens of another new test in the back end of the app.
As you can see in these images (shared by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi), Twitter’s also developing ‘Stations’ within the Spaces tab, which would incorporate podcasts into its audio stream, providing even more options for tuning into on-demand audio content within the app.
That could make Spaces recordings even more valuable, and potentially help Spaces broadcasters translate their work into a monetizable podcast process – but do Twitter users really want to tune into podcasts from the app? I mean, we have Spoitify and Apple Podcasts and various other options available.
Could Twitter really become a key hub for audio content like this?
In some ways, it seems unnecessary, but then again, the real-time nature of tweets lends itself to topical discussion, and that could make it a good hub for all of these types of discussions and content, including Spaces, Spaces recordings, podcasts, etc.
And again, that would better facilitate connection between Spaces and recorded audio. It just depends on whether Twitter users will actually come to rely on the app for their latest podcast content.
On another front, Twitter will now also enable iOS users to record a Space when the broadcast is over, even if they didn’t hit ‘Record’ during the session.
Which also means that the ‘REC’ marker would not have been present during the session, alerting participants to the fact that this was being recorded, which could be problematic for some contributors.
In some ways, it seems like Twitter didn’t offer these options initially because it thought that it wouldn’t be able to facilitate the data storage required to keep all of the many recordings in its data banks, but now, with so few people broadcasting, it’s maybe found that this won’t actually be a problem.
A sort of ‘glass half full’ element, I guess.
Finally, Twitter’s also adding new details into the Spaces bar on Android, including additional, scrolling insights into who’s hosting, the topics being discussed, who’s shared a Tweet in the chat and more.
That could entice more users into the session – or at the least, bring even more attention to the Spaces bar at the top of the app by providing more, bigger info.
Though again, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like Spaces is really catching on, going on the participant numbers in the Spaces stream. And while the addition of podcasts could be interesting, I don’t see Twitter becoming a key app for audio content, especially as the Clubhouse-led audio trend continues to die down.
But maybe the engagement numbers are better than it seems. I mean, you’d have to assume that they are, given Twitter’s ongoing investment in the functionality – through Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal did note last month, that the company had not hit intermediate milestones on its growth plans, based on its investment in new functionalities like Spaces, Communities and Twitter Blue.
Twitter hasn’t shared specific data, so maybe there’s more to it, and that’s why it’s so keen to push ahead with more Spaces tools. But either way, it’s giving it its best opportunity to succeed, and it’s seemingly not done yet with its Spaces development.
Will that, eventually, result in Spaces becoming a thing? Only time will tell.
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